Coffeehouse Etiquette 101
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Cafes are a great place for a natter with friends while also knocking back coffee in a relaxed environment - but there are a set of unwritten rules everyone should follow according to an etiquette expert.

Etiquette expert William Hanson who has worked within Royal and VIP households, says that stirring your drink in a circular motion, putting your little finger in the air, and slurping your cappuccino are all cafe etiquette no-nos.

(Though we can imagine many have gone through life without committing polite society errors, us included).

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Now, Hanson has spoken on behalf of UK coffee retailer Coffee Friend, to reveal the correct way to conduct yourself and what to avoid.

The little finger does not extend while holding a cup

When sipping a cuppa, the term "pinkies up" comes to mind, however, you would be mistaken.

Apparently, we should not extend our little finger when the cup is in our hands, according to Hanson.

"The thumb and index finger pinch between the handle, with the middle finger (and sometimes fingers 4 and 5) used for support, following the shape of the handle."

"The top of the handle should be visible at all times. Contrary to popular belief, the little finger does not extend! Avoid holding it like a mug, where the index finger hooks through and the thumb is placed on top of the handle."

Dunking biscuits is not acceptable in polite society

There's nothing better than a good ol' biscuit dunk, but alas it is frowned upon by Hanson who says biscuit dunking should never be a public sight in a cafe.

"There is no correct etiquette for drinking a biscuit into your tea! In fact, this is an arrestable offence."

"Of course, if you are at home, with your curtains firmly drawn, and you wish to dunk when no one is watching, that is perhaps permissible. But in polite society, we don't dunk."

Napkins are not to be used as facecloths

When you get a crumb or some sauce on your face, perhaps you first instinct is to wipe it off with a napkin, but Hanson says instead of wiping, we dab as it is not a flannel.

"If a few droplets of lapsang can't be discreetly removed with the tongue or lips, then a napkin is needed."

"We dab from side to side, gently to remove the residue. Remember, a napkin is not a facecloth or flannel, so don't start washing or wiping inelegantly."

Stirring should be done back and forth, not round and round

Everyone gives their hot drinks a stir, and while it is tempting to stir circular in the shape of the mug, the optimal way to do is actually back and forth, Hanson says.

"When we stir, we do this in gentle back-and-forth motions rather than going round and round."

"This is for three reasons: 1) if the cup is filled a bit too much, the back-and-forth motion prevents spills, 2) if you have added sugar, the back-and-forth motion will dissolve it quicker, and 3) it looks a thousand times more elegant!"

Etiquette expert William Hanson shares how we should conduct ourselves when in a cafeiStockphoto by Getty Images

Banging the spoon on the top of the cup is majorly incorrect

After *correctly* stirring your drink back and forth, the move not to make is banging the spoon on the top of the cup (as tempting as it is), as Hanson notes, only "a gentle flick" is needed.

In the UK, we place the teaspoon on the saucer, in line with the handle at the back of the cup.

Once you have stirred, a gentle flick above the cup is correct, whereas banging the spoon on top of the cup is majorly incorrect. In other countries, the etiquette is to leave the spoon at an angle, underneath the handle.

Either option is fine, and no one will arrest you if you get it wrong.

You should keep quiet while eating and drinking

Silent eating is of course a staple of good etiquette in the UK as Hanson explains while noting this differs according to different cultures.

"There are some cultures where slurping is believed to enhance the flavour but even in said cultures, that rule is being quietly forgotten as no one agrees audible drinking (or eating) is pleasant."

Going to keep a mental checklist of this next time we're in a cafe...

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